North Dakota, Minnesota National Guard sending helicopters, troops to help with Florence response

The North Dakota National Guard is sending three helicopters and 15 personnel to the East Coast and Minnesota is sending a helicopter and five personnel to assist the emergency response to Hurricane Florence if needed.
A National Guard vehicle is parked at the Fort Rice Campground along the Missouri River in western North Dakota. Bismarck Tribune file photo

The North Dakota National Guard is sending three helicopters and 15 personnel to the East Coast and Minnesota is sending a helicopter and five personnel to assist the emergency response to Hurricane Florence if needed.

The North Dakota helicopters and personnel will depart Saturday morning, Sept. 15, from Bismarck to Maryland to be near the disaster area in case they are asked to assist with life-saving or life-sustaining efforts, Gov. Doug Burgum’s office said.

North Dakota has not received a request for help from states hit by Florence, which was downgraded to a tropical storm Friday, Sept. 14, but it’s anticipated such a request could come soon.

“Just as other states have come to our aid during past floods and other disasters, North Dakota is ready to help those threatened by the destructive forces of Hurricane Florence,” Burgum said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones to this violent storm, and we pray for the safekeeping of those still in harm’s way.”

Said Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton in a news release, “I thank the courageous Minnesota National Guard soldiers who will provide this critical assistance. Minnesotans stand ready to assist in any way we are able.”

Under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, governors can request mutual aid from other states to share resources, personnel and equipment across state lines during times of emergencies or disasters.

Florence has pounded the Carolinas. The Dakotas Region of the American Red Cross sent 27 people to the region this week and is waiting to see what happens before sending additional volunteers, spokeswoman Gretchen Hjelmstad told the Minot Daily News.